The Ultimate Guide to Decluttering Your Email Inbox
Is your email inbox an ever-growing clutter of a mess? Do you feel subtle anxiety every time you open your inbox or receive a new email? Perhaps you get lost in all the chaos, and it is impeding your productivity and responsiveness? Do you feel frustrated because you have to take more than a few steps to prioritize or act on each incoming email?
Not all professionals realize that the digital clutter in an email inbox is just as distracting and detrimental to productivity as a cluttered office or desk. Scientists have found that Email anxiety is a real and debilitating disorder from which many people suffer. Email anxiety is almost always caused by disorganized email inboxes.
By reading this guide, you have taken the first and most crucial step in overcoming this problem. Here are nine critical email clutter tips to help you declutter your email inboxes and become more organized and productive.
1. Move All Disorganized Emails into a Single Folder
Move all the emails in your inbox into a single folder to begin organizing them. If you have hundreds of thousands of emails dating back to the 1990s, do not feel overwhelmed by the task ahead. It is best to start fresh so that all emails you receive during and after decluttering will not interrupt the organization process.
2. Separate Business Emails From Personal
Before you begin decluttering your email inboxes, you should first know the golden rule of email use: never use a single email address for both personal and official correspondence. Suppose you use a single email for everything. In that case, you must first separate them – have one for personal stuff, and another for official correspondences.
3. Create a Folder Structure System to Organize the Inbox
The best way to keep your email inboxes organized is to have a structured folder system. If you use Gmail, you are probably familiar with its email labeling system of categorization. Aim to have such a structure, but with personalized mail folders, preferably no more than five. The simpler the system you set up, the less stressful it will be to keep the inbox organized years down the road.
4. Use Search and Filter to Group Common Types of Emails
Next, use your mailbox’s search and filter tools to categorize emails in a few clicks. You can search common words, phone numbers, addresses, or names to select emails you are unlikely to refer to soon and archive them all at once. With this simple tactic, you can clear or categorize hundreds or thousands of emails at once.
5. Turn Emails into Events and Tasks
One of the most productive ways to use an official email is to incorporate emails into a workplace management tool. Since email messages demand your attention the moment they hit the inbox, you can turn emails from a project management tool and project team members into events and to-do items. Emails that require multiple steps or actions such as scheduling an event, reviewing documents, or CC a colleague can be easily turned into reminders on your calendar. Once this is done, the tool can delete or archive the original email.
6. Set Up an Email Prioritization System
Radicati Group’s study revealed that a business professional today receives about 81 emails every day, nearly half of them being unnecessary or unimportant. Dealing with such a large number of emails throughout the day can be exhausting and time-consuming.
Not every email you receive demands immediate attention. A few may be urgent and need to be acted upon as soon as possible. How do you tell one from the other when your phone chimes and ‘you’ve got mail’? If your email inbox has no order or prioritization system, you cannot.
You can set up a custom color-coded label for high-priority emails and enable notification for them. If possible, disable app and desktop notifications for new emails on all other labels.
7. Unsubscribe from Unimportant Newsletters
Is your email inbox filled with offers, promotions, and newsletters? Yes, you may have had good intentions when you subscribed for emails, but if you keep receiving emails you never read, it may be time to unsubscribe.
It is much easier to unsubscribe from promotional and newsletter emails today. It takes one or two clicks to remove your address from an email list. You can do this manually by clicking the ‘unsubscribe’ link at the bottom of the email or by using a third-party tool such as Unroll.me or use professional email declutter services.
You should also make it a habit to act on a promotional email or newsletter immediately – by either marking it for action or unsubscribe entirely if you are no longer interested in what the sender has to offer to prevent email clutter.
8. Nurture an “Always Zero Inbox” Habit
Many professionals do not realize it, but keeping an email inbox free from clutter is much easier than it seems. This may be the most important of all the email clutter tips in this list. With a few proactive steps, you can nurture a habit to always deal with every new email in a certain way to keep your email inbox clutter-free.
9. Consider Opportunities for Automation
The best approach is to create filtering rules in your inbox that automate specific actions. For instance, you can create a rule to automatically delete emails from a list of senders or those that are difficult to unsubscribe from.
Most modern email services feature advanced tools to apply labels or move new emails to their respective folders. While setting up automatic filtering and labeling can be tasking, it will ultimately save you a lot of time in wasted productivity and stress brought about by email clutter.
Email is over half a century old, but it remains one of the most amazing communication tools man has ever invented. However, it can also be a source of headache and stress if not correctly used. These tips will help you deal with an unruly inbox and free you to dedicate your attention and time to the messages the email bears rather than the emails themselves.
Do you need professional assistance and personalized tips on how to keep your email inboxes clutter-free? Click here to book a 20-minute discovery call today and learn proven techniques to keep your emails organized.
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